Kyrgyzstan Trip

Reasons for going:

Humanitarian.

Objective:

initiate and support self sustaining private vet practices and develop a replicable model.

Situation:

Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countries in Asia and many of the rural population are poverty stricken subsistence farmers. Animals are the wealth and means of survival for these rural populations. But disease is rampant. The most serious infectious animal diseases and many that are transmissible to humans are common here. Examples are Brucellosis, Anthrax, Foot and Mouth, Rabies, Pasteurellosis, PPP.

Animal losses and production losses are crippling and farming systems have reverted since soviet era and are little different from thousands of years ago. There is little understanding of significant diseases, their importance or control, and the National Veterinary school is of very questionable value.

Infrastructure problems are severe. Roads have little or no maintenance. Many irrigation channels vital for productive farming are in disrepair and non functional. Most villages have electricity and some houses do. Power outages occur most days and sometimes last for days and there is no postal or courier service that can be trusted.

Drugs and vaccines are available sometimes, but depending on their source may be fake or of dubious quality.

Corruption is endemic and expected. Little can be achieved without bribery.

There is massive erosion and rapid desertification (my guess is about 30 – 40 thousand tonnes of topsoil go down the Naryn River every day). Land ownership is divided between small privately held lots and extensive lots of common land. This common land about villages is over grassed to the extreme, to the extent that all edible species of plant are almost wiped out.

There is no coherent attempt to manage pasture and certainly no attempt to achieve regeneration or reseeding on common lands.

There seems to be no use of arid land farming knowledge with the exception of irrigation of some river flats.

There is no apparent use of tree cropping for animal fodder and there is almost no use of fertilizers including animal waste. Most animal waste is used as fuel.

Wolf predation of livestock is significant. Livestock must be corralled at night and guarded. The use of electric fences (solar) and solar night lights provided by the Trust, have been partially successful as a deterrent.

Quality of animal feed both fresh and stored is often very poor. The Trust has promoted and provided seed for Sanfoin and Chicory in an effort to improve feed quality, especially in the area of available protein and digestibility.

The trust has tried to teach the skills of silage making, on a small scale using hand dug pits and hand tools.

Because of the long hard winters. 5 to 6 months of winter with temperatures sometimes reaching – 40 degrees C. Housing of livestock is essential. Many of these buildings are completely inadequate and poorly designed for ventilation, shelter and removal of effluent. Poor hygiene is a major issue and common cause of stock losses.

Opportunities:

  • The valley floors are generally incredibly fertile with potential for NZ style dairy farming technology, subject to requirement for winter housing and feedpads.

  • The potential to increase farm production in this country is amazing

  • The use of a large scale demonstration farms may be the fastest way to improve the farming systems.

  • The trusts current approach is to use bottom up, micro enterprise style projects, which they have found effective elsewhere. The project to set up veterinary practices is one of these.

  • The biggest need is for education, and both farmers and vets are pleading for help.

Progress so far:

Four veterinary practices have now been set up. Equipment, drugs, supervision and training have been provided.

Future needs:

These practices need ongoing training, support and monitoring to see if this model is successful.

  • The trust’s desire, is to establish a further four practices this year if finances allow.

  • A trustee will need to return to Kyrgyzstan to monitor progress and establish new practices.

  • Gareth Morgan will again match donations dollar for dollar.